Saskatchewan

New petition calls for defunding the Regina Police Service

The City of Regina approved a 2020 budget of $96 million for the Regina Police Service. It's the city's single biggest expense.

Calls for defunding police have been made in other cities since killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police

The 'Defund RPS' petition on change.org says it was created by 'concerned citizens.' (CBC)

The City of Regina approved a 2020 budget of $96 million for the Regina Police Service.

Policing is routinely the city's single biggest expense, and the 2020 budget was just under a $4-million hike over 2019's — but now, some are saying these increases should not only stop, but reverse.

A new petition, started Thursday, calls for defunding the Regina Police Service. 

The petition explanation on the website change.org says it was created by "concerned citizens."

"The police budget increases while community groups like White Pony Lodge and Mobile Crisis, which provide low-cost alternatives to policing, are forced to rely on Go Fund Me campaigns, personal donations, and small grants from the city," the website reads, in part. 

"[This is] in spite of the fact that they provide many of the same services as police, without requiring weaponry, communications departments, cells, or armoured vehicles."

When asked about the petition, Regina police Chief Evan Bray said the challenges Regina faces are "rooted in social justice issues, and so we have to find a way that we can find an adequate level of funding for everything."

"I know that there's lots of work to be done on proper funding of of medical issues and social issues, because if we can dig into those root causes, we can truly make a meaningful difference in our police services committed to that work as well," he said.

There have been calls to defund police forces in other cities, particularly since the May 25 killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis.

The petition asks for Regina Mayor Michael Fougere and city council to: 

  • Never again vote to increase the Regina Police Service budget.
  • Halt all hiring of additional officers, the purchase of additional equipment, and the planned expansion of the RPS headquarters.
  • Prioritize the expansion of community-led health and safety initiatives over future financial investment into the RPS.

"An increased police presence does not keep us safe, rather it directly threatens the lives of our most vulnerable communities," the petition creators wrote.

As of Friday night, it had over 800 signatures.

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